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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Last time around we unveiled the basic outline of the new Tim Green story coming this September. This time we ask, with apologies to Mr. Shakespeare and his roses, “What’s in a name?”

A lot, actually.

Of the many aspects of writing with the potential to frustrate, naming things—characters, places, the books themselves—is the one that typically gives me the most heartburn. In the earliest drafts of Believe in Me, Jordan Lee and Tim Green each had different last names. The smaller the characters, the less weight their names ultimately carry, but with major characters, you want their names to somehow subtly reinforce their identities, or at a minimum “feel” right for who they are. Often it’s only over time and getting to know the characters better that you discover names that really suit them. (And by the way—and I’ll just leave this here—is “Lee” Jordan’s actual birth name, or just a stage name he adopted early in his career? You know what? I’m still not sure myself.)

Naming a book is a big deal. You want a name that captures an idea or theme or significant plot element and conveys it to the reader in an interesting and usually somewhat indirect way. You want, above all, to convey a sense of the flavor of the story without giving too much away. It’s a dance of a thousand veils, and I honestly lost track of the number of names I went through for Believe in Me, though I distinctly remember the months during which it was known as One True Voice (too Jordan-centric), and then Me and Jordan Lee (too cutesy), and then Hungry Hearts (too cliché, too vague, and could imply a romance novel).

In the end the title turned up hiding right under my nose, in the story’s epigraph. Believe in Me ultimately borrowed its title from a fragment of a familiar song lyric, delivering a simple imperative with layers of meaning buried within it that become clear over the course of the book—an approach it seemed only fitting to emulate for a sequel to that story.

Fortunately, the struggle was much briefer this time, as the right title emerged relatively quickly from the mists. As Tim Green sets out on a quest to find his long-lost mother, while becoming entwined with another family shaken and frayed by its own dysfunctions, the title of the new story urges them all to hold tight to the bonds that, for better or for worse, bind them together.

Never Break the Chain will be available in paperback and Kindle editions on September 5.

Finally, don’t forget—signing up for our very occasional (generally around four times a year) newsletter below offers you access to exclusive content and giveaways that aren’t available anywhere else. For example: anyone who signs up for the newsletter by August 29 will be automatically entered in a drawing for one of three signed copies of the new book. All we need is an email address (which we will never share). More soon…

Comment (1)

  • Claire

    Having already read this book, I urge everyone to quickly read Believe in Me so you will be ready to read this new book when it comes out. You won't want to miss it. It holds your attention on every page. Great writing, Jason.

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